Wild, Colorful, Newfoundland

 

 

It is no secret that Adam and I love the ocean, although for completely different reasons. Adam loves to lie on the beach and soak up the sun, while I love getting in the water regardless of how cold it might be. With this in mind along with the fact that Adam wanted to go someplace neither of us had ever been this year, we agreed to spend one week of our Summer vacation in Newfoundland.

Adam and I have now been to all three Maritime provinces and have enjoyed all of them immensely with Newfoundland, we discovered, being the most natural, untamed maritime province. It is the least densely populated with only 1.5 inhabitants per square kilometer. When you take into account the size of the province (405,212 sq. kms), you can get a bit of a feel for how rural a place it is, especially when you know that most of the island’s inhabitants live in the capital city of St. John’s. So if you are going to visit Newfoundland and want to see more than St. John’s and its immediate area, you need to enjoy driving. Adam and I rented an SUV for our one week stay and by the time we returned it I had driven a solid 2000 kilometers and we only visited the Avalon Peninsula, which is the Northeast and Southeast of the province.

How was the weather, you might be wondering? The weather in Newfoundland is notoriously difficult to predict and can change very suddenly no matter which part of the province you are in. Typically, if it is not nice in your neck of the woods, it will be sunny about an hour up the road. Just check the radar and head to where it is clear. We got a bit of everything while we were in Newfoundland, including some lovely, sunny, 30 degree (celsius) days where we went to the beach and got a tan. What we got the most though was, yes, fog, very, very dense fog. I can guarantee you will encounter fog several times a day, every day in Newfoundland and if it is a rainy day you will have to contend with that as well. If you want to learn more about the geography of Newfoundland and what makes it so foggy, you can read this Wikipedia article. Suffice it say, not only do you have to not mind driving if you want to have fun in Newfoundland, you also have to be a fairly relaxed driver, no matter the weather. I do not recommend driving at night if you can avoid it, regardless of how confident you are behind the wheel because on top of the dense fog, you may also encounter a moose. There are roughly 150 000 of them in the province and while we did not encounter a single one during our week-long vacation, there are on average 600 moose vs. car collisions in Newfoundland every year. Most of them are not fatal for humans, however the same cannot be said for their cars or the poor moose which is why many Newfoundlanders prefer not to drive at night. If you do have to drive at night and catch up to another driver, stay behind them as driving in groups is safer.

I wholeheartedly recommend visiting Newfoundland if you have the chance, it is an absolutely beautiful, peaceful province and Newfoundlanders are a very kind and welcoming bunch who will be happy to help you enjoy your stay in any way they can. If you want to get the most out of you trip to this unique province, I would recommend visiting as many wildlife and nature reserves as you can. I thoroughly enjoyed Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve and we both absolutely loved our whale and birdwatching tour with O’Brien’s Boat Tours. The historic town of Trinity was another of our favorites, we visited there twice and both times we ate at the Trinity Coffee Company and Mercantile. Trinity is also a fabulous place to shop for locally made arts and crafts for yourself or as a gift for friends and family. Finally, do not pass up on enjoying the view from the cliffs of Bonavista and keep an eye out for puffins of whales, we saw plenty of them!

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In with the new

Most people greet the New Year with the saying ”Out with the old, in with the new!” in mind. I have done so myself, almost every single year and, I will admit, with a particular amount of vigor for the past five years. This year though? I feel like I have won the lottery of life. I have found myself actually fearing, on several occasions, that I was too happy. That being blessed with so much happiness after being either so miserable or so unlucky for so long had to be a prank.

Life this year wasn’t perfect every day, don’t get me wrong. I definitely had a few iffy passes in there. My car cost me a bundle when I wasn’t expecting it to in October, Adam had to work some serious overtime in the weeks leading up to our wedding because of the flooding we had in the Montreal area this Spring and the renovations on our new home cost us a tad more than we had budgeted, namely when the wire that brought power to our house snapped in a wind storm in the middle of February just as the guys were starting to sand the floors so they could varnish them. Also, there was a snow storm the day we began our move…the last weekend in March. That’s life in Canada for you, never take off your snow tires until mid-april!

Despite all the little hiccups this was, I must say, the best year I have had in my entire life. I have, overall, been deliriously happy. Adam and I moved into our dream home after searching for it for nearly a year and, most of all, we got married. I didn’t know I actually had the capacity to be as boundlessly happy as I was on our wedding day. It was the most amazing feeling and one I am very pleased to say I can still find when I look at Adam 🙂

So let me give you all this bit of wisdom, based on life experience: Do not ever give up on happiness. Do not ever give up on love. Do not ever give up on your dreams. Life can be complete and utter shit, believe me, I know. However if you keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep focusing on and reaching out for your goals, your hopes and dreams, even if at first you only have one little spark of light to reach for you will reach it. Be confident, be hopeful and use that little spark to keep going. Most of all, remember that you are stronger than you imagine.

Thank you 2017 for bringing so many of my dreams to life. 2018, you have some seriously big shoes to fill! Happy New Year to all of you, may 2018 bring you all kinds of treats!

Fall beauty and searching for stillness

 

It is no secret that we live a frenzied lifestyle nowadays. We are constantly connected to others through cell phones and social media on top of regular, everyday human interaction, especially if you are a city dweller like me. That is why I love getting away to the countryside when I can. That can be difficult to do though, because getting out to the countryside requires that ever precious and elusive thing: time. That is why it was difficult for me when my mom announced that she was moving out to the boonies last Spring. It is no fun when your mom tells you she is moving 100 kilometers away, even when you are an adult. Mild consolation came, however, the first time Adam and I went to visit my mom and saw how lovely her home was. It also happens to be right on a lake. So the downside: my mom lives 100 kilometers away and it takes us an hour and twenty minutes to get there when traffic is good. The upside: look at this beautiful, serene setting. We can go canoeing on her lake when we visit her in the Summer and leaf peeping in the fall. It will more than likely be drop-dead gorgeous in the winter as well.

My last visit to my mom’s place left me wondering what I could do to slow down the pace of my frenzied life a bit. Felling overly solicited is a problem of mine and am known for my bouts of Superwoman syndrome which leave me drained and guilt-ridden when I cannot handle taking care of the house, cooking every day of the week, running errands and a few hours at work thrown in for good measure on top of taking the car into the shop. Of course, taking care of myself goes completely by the wayside when this happens as well. After my most recent Superwoman syndrome attack I analysed what I spent time on every day closely for a week or two. I was alarmed by how much time I spent checking my e-mail and social media accounts, so I decided to gradually cut back my access to them. I started by turning off e-mail alerts on my cell phone and tablet, then I removed Instagram from my tablet as well. I gained a lot of time during the day just by doing that. Then a few weeks ago, I was embroiled in some Facebook drama and that was the last straw. ‘Real’ life is dramatic enough, I didn’t need Facebook antics adding to my every day struggles, so I removed the Facebook app from my phone and my iPad. I now have to go onto the Facebook site on my phone, PC or tablet and log on to access my account and news feed. Talk about liberating! I still have Instagram on my phone so I can take and share photos and those go onto Facebook but that is pretty much all I put on there. I have shared one status update in the last three weeks or perhaps even longer and I feel like my privacy level has gone way up. I have more time to do what I love, like reading, writing, cooking and working on my photos and I feel much less like I am living in a fish bowl.

Lesson learned: life will always be crazy, there is no getting around that. You can, however, find ways to free up some precious time for yourself by analyzing how you spend your time and where you waste any of it. For me, my use of social media was the logical thing to cut back on and I have been considerably happier since I have done so. My private life has become just that: private.

Our Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia Honeymoon

 

Hello everyone!

Here, now that I am finally done sorting through our wedding photos, are some pictures from our amazing Maritime Honeymoon!

Adam and I were asked many times why on earth we would decide to go to the Maritimes for our honeymoon? Would we not rather go to some far-flung tropical destination with palm trees, a swim up bar and room service?  Uh…no, no, we would not. We thought about it at first but that’s just not us. Adam and I wanted peace and quiet and to be with nobody but one another for our honeymoon and you just can’t have that in a resort. Also, for the price we paid for our cottage for one month, we would have only been able to spend two weeks at the most in a resort. We wanted to go to a place where we knew we would be able to fully recharge our batteries, do things at our own pace and not feel like we were missing out on anything if we decided we needed to spend the day just loafing around at home. We both know and love PEI so it was the logical choice and we decided to stay near the Wood Islands ferry terminal so we could make a day trip to Nova Scotia, which neither one of us had ever visited.

In the end, our honeymoon was perfect and just what we needed. We spent the first week and a half taking things slow, napping whenever we wanted to and the third week we made our trip to Nova Scotia where we visited Halifax, Lunenberg and made a quick photo stop in Mahone. We came home tanned, much to everyone’s surprise (hello, beautiful PEI beaches!), rested and blissfully happy. So, when planning your honeymoon, do not be afraid to think outside the box. Honeymoons do not have to involve sunny, tropical destinations. They can also be built around going back to a place you love or around an activity you love.The main thing is, make sure you can relax during your trip and do not feel the need to leave 24 hours after you walk down the aisle. Even though weddings are a blast and you come through them on a massive high, they are stressful and once you come down off your adrenaline rush, all you will want to do is sleep and lie around in your PJs for a few days and we really appreciated being able to do that for a week before we had to spend a day and a half driving to the Island.

Finally, here is a list of the most romantic things to do in PEI:

1- Sunset beach walks

2- Having dinner at the Point Prim Chowder House at sunset

3- Dinner at Dalvay by the sea

4- Indulging in an ice cream cone from Cow’s while strolling through Charlottetown in the evening

5- Enjoy a walk through the PEI Preserve Company’s Gardens of Hope

I hope you all enjoy the photos from our trip, I’m so glad I finally had the time to get on here and share with all of you!

 

 

Settling in

Many of you are already aware of this, but after months and months of searching, a few failed purchase attempts and many tears, Adam and I finally found a house we loved as much as our beloved upper duplex and we moved a week and a half ago. We were not able to stay in Monkland Village as we had hoped, but we are still in our much-loved neighborhood of NDG and are settling into our new house wonderfully.

Now that we are done packing and almost done unpacking boxes, Adam and I have been able to get back to our much-neglected evening walks. We went out for our first on this past Sunday and I was struck by how beautiful our new area was in the early evening light, so when we went out again yesterday I brought my camera with me and thoroughly enjoyed taking some pictures of the stunning architecture our neck of NDG and neighboring Westmount had to offer. I hope you will enjoy these photos as much I enjoyed taking them. Oh and just in case you get some crazy ideas, no, our place is nowhere near as over the top as any of these houses. They don’t build houses like the ones in these photos anymore, and have not for the past 150 to 100 years, at least not this close to Downtown Montreal and not one of them has a tax bill under 20 000, I kid you not…

Spring and Summer beauties

 

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Macro shot of one of my Hibiscus blooms.

Ah, Spring! It finally made its way to Montreal! Okay, you can’t really tell today because it is pretty darn chilly out there, but that’s the nature of the climate in this neck of the woods at this time of year: just when you’re convinced you won’t have to wear a sweater or jacket again until September or October, Mother Nature plays a trick on you and throws in a touch of April weather just to keep you on your toes! At least there are leaves on the trees, flowers in my pots and strawberries growing on my from deck though and I’m happy to be sharing these pictures of them with you! Isn’t it awesome how the pollen on the hibiscus bloom looks like caviar? I got a serious kick out of that! I also loved that I was out on the front balcony just at the right moment to snap a photo of this ant as he wandered around on my strawberry plant. I have gotten photos of butterflies, bees and other small insects before, but never an ant.

People often think that you can’t get photos of nature when you live in town, but really you don’t have to look too far, especially in my neighborhood which is full of parks, small front gardens and balconies that most people take a great deal of pride in. I honestly adore my part of town and wouldn’t move out of it for the world!

For more photos of flowers and gardens from Montreal and elsewhere, you can head over to the ‘Flowers’ page.

 

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An ant wandering around my strawberry plant.

Two days in Québec

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So, you have undoubtedly noticed that I have been away for a while. We have some new downstairs neighbors and it has been a bumpy ride since they took possession of the lower half of the duplex in mid-March and began demolishing it in order to renovate it. A bumpy ride as in beyond the usual irritating consequences of a nearly hundred year-old house being gutted to the studs and rebuilt. We were expecting noise, dust and a few issues being discovered with our home as well, but on top of that we got work being done on common elements of the building without our permission, legal threats, express instructions that  only electricians cut wires being ignored and therefore power to sections of our home being cut, our alarm system being damaged and our phone line being cut. We were also treated to personal accusations and insults being thrown our way through the hypocritical medium of e-mail which led me to put my foot down and cut all ties with the neighbors except for requests for bills being paid or permission being requested for work to be done on common elements.With all this going on, to say that I have been lacking inspiration to create anything at all would be an understatement. I have actually been lacking the time and energy to get anything done beyond dealing with the mess being created by the new neighbors at all. The one thing that has been able to give me a reprieve from the confused heap our life has recently become was a two day trip to Quebec City we ran off on at the drop of a hat two weeks ago so Adam could attend a conference. It gave me a chance to spend some time wandering around one of the most photogenic cities I have ever seen, reconnect with my mother’s family history and disconnect from anything neighbor related. Oh, and Adam and I got to have a nice, romantic dinner in one of our favorite restaurants as well. We discovered it on our last trip to Quebec City two years ago and were so happy to be able to go back.

Quebec City is a beautiful little jewel of a place filled with colorful row houses and its oldest section is surrounded by the only intact fortified walls to be found in America north of Mexico which were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. The city is one of the oldest in North America and was founded by Samuel de Champlain in 1608. While all of this makes the city exceptional in and of itself, it is the history of my family that always makes me happy to go back and visit it. My mother’s family has its roots in Quebec City and can be traced back to the 17th century in the area, so needless to say I always feel at home when I am there and love remembering all the stories my grandmother has told me about growing up in Quebec City. I love walking through Quebec’s narrow streets and feeling my family’s past around me. This was the first time I really had the time to photograph the city as well and my goodness did I enjoy every second of those two days.

Finally, I’ve decided to post only in English from now on to make life simpler for myself on here. One language to post in means it takes me half the time to get a post up which is a good thing. All the photos featured in the slideshow in this post will be added to the travel photography page, so if you want to get a close look at them, you can pop over there.

 

Travel Photography-Photos de voyage

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My late father’s stuffed dog, Mr. Puppy, on a dirt road in PEI, Canada- Mr. Puppy, le chien en peluche de mon père, décédé en 2013, sur une route de terre rouge de l’Île-Du-Prince-Édouard

I have not always been an avid traveler. I was never actually that big on it until the first time I went to New York City with a school trip in grade nine and had the time of my life, but the travel bug really bit me when I took my first huge leap across the Atlantic at the age of 25 and went all the way to Italy by myself. I cried like a baby on my way to the airport I was so terrified and my mom cried (and did her best to hide it) on the the front doorstep of our house as she waved off my taxi cab (sorry mom, but yes, you did!). I had never been any further than California before and had never traveled outside of a structured family or group setting, so my nerves were warranted. I had been dreaming of going to Europe ever since I was a child and everything I saw and experienced on my Italian adventure far exceeded my expectations. Since then, I have tried my best to go someplace I have never been before at least once a year and oh, how enriching it has been! In order to share my love of traveling with all of you, I have created a travel photography page which I hope you will enjoy. For now, there are photos from my three most recent trips to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, Prince Edward Island and Atlanta. More of my photos from Atlanta can be found on my flower and animal photography pages. I will be adding more travel photos just as soon as I can get them edited and watermarked, so check back again soon!

Sachez que je n’ai pas toujours été une grand amatrice des voyages. Enfin, ce n’est qu’après avoir pri mon courage à deux mains pour participer à une excursion d’une fin de semaine à la grande ville de New York en secondaire trois que j’ai commencé à y prendre goût. La vrai piqûre du voyage est arrivée quand j’ai fait le grand saut de l’autre bord de l’Atlantique pour la première fois à l’âge de 25 ans afin de passer 10 jours en Italie. J’étais tellement nerveuse à l’idée de voyager seule pour la première fois que j’ai pleuré comme une Madeleine dans le taxi et même ma mère, malgré ses efforts, a pleuré sur le perron de notre maison à mon départ (désolée maman, tu sais comme c’est difficile de me cacher quoi que ce soit!). C’était une grosse affaire pour une fille qui, jusqu’à ce point, n’avait jamais voyagé sans être bien encadrée pour un groupe scolaire ou sa famille de se rendre jusqu’à Florence et ensuite à Rome par elle-même, mais mon Dieu, que ce voyage m’a fait du bien et il a été plus merveilleux que ce que j’aurais pu imaginé. C’est beaucoup en dire puisque je rêvais de me rendre en Europe depuis ma petite enfance! Depuis ce temps, j’essaie de voyager à un nouvel endroit par année, qu’il soit près ou éloigné et je ne peux pas exprimer comment cet exercice est enrichissant! Afin de partager avec vous mon amour du voyage, j’ai créé aujourd’hui une page pour les photos que je prend lors de mes petites promenades sur notre belle planète! Vous-y trouverez pour l’instant des photos de mes trois derniers voyages à Atlanta (dont vous pourrez aussi trouver des photos sur mes pages de photographie d’animaux et de fleures), Las Vegas et le Grand Canyon ainsi qu’à l’Île-Du-Prince-Édouard. J’y rajouterai des photos d’autres destinations aussitôt que j’aurai fini de les traiter, alors revenez faire un petit tour ici bientôt!